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Withdraw Cases Before Holding Peace Talks, Outlawed Militant Group Tells Meghalaya Govt

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SHILLONG, Nov 18: The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), an outlawed militant organisation in Meghalaya, has said the outfit’s chairman and general secretary will not participate in the ongoing peace talks with the Centre and the state government unless all cases registered against them are withdrawn.

“The (state) government insists on the participation of the chairman and general secretary. We have clearly said unless all pending cases against us are withdrawn or a framework agreement for a ceasefire is signed, the HNLC chairman or general secretary cannot participate in the discussions,” outfit chairman Bobby Marwein said in a statement on Friday.

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“Officially, we have entrusted our newly appointed vice-chairman Teimiki Laloo with overseeing the process and evaluating its progress,” he added.

The outfit maintained that peace talks are intended to facilitate a solution through negotiations and diplomatic efforts but suspected that the Centre seems to perceive it as a form of surrender or disarmament.

“We firmly believe that a political solution is essential for sustainable peace. Therefore, it is crucial that peace talks are not contingent upon predetermined terms,” the outfit added.

Earlier this week, deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong informed that the government was waiting a formal communication from the HNLC.

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All three parties had met once earlier this year and the HNLC had demanded general amnesty for all its cadres.

In August last year, the HNLC leadership had authorised its vice-chairman and foreign secretary to also participate in the ongoing tripartite talks for peace between the Government of India, the state government, and the outfit.

The NIA had in August 2022 filed a chargesheet against four members of the outlawed armed organisation for detonating a bomb on the premises of Star Cement Factory in East Jaintia Hills district for their failure to pay ransom.

The bomb had exploded at the factory in December 2020 and the NIA registered the case in March 2021.

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Investigation revealed that the explosion was carried out by HNLC terrorists as the owner of the cement company did not pay ‘illegal tax’ demanded by one Marius Rynjah alias Hep Koit who is also the finance secretary of the outfit.

The four persons named in the chargesheet are outfit chairman Bobby Marwein, general secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw, finance secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw and one Emmanuel Suchen of Lumshnong. (PTI)

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